Experts Say This Is the Surprising Age When Sexual Fantasizing Peaks

Sex experts explain why women are willing to get friskier as they age.

There are way too many stigmas around libido, especially in reference to age. The libido is a person’s sexual desire, and men are typically pinpointed for having a higher libido than women. We’ve heard the joke before—the pesky husband that won’t stop asking for it, or how men just “always have it on their minds.” But like many other stigmas that come with sex, this particular tidbit isn’t always true. In fact, women can experience a very strong increase in their sex drive, and it’s unfortunately not talked about enough.

While a male’s sexual desire will hit peaks in their early twenties due to heightened testosterone levels, a woman will actually experience a life in libido a little later. And that doesn’t just mean an increase in sex drive, but also heightened sexual fantasies and thoughts about having sex.

So why is that? Is there any science to explain this increase in libido later in life? To learn more about how as women age we experience a stronger sex drive, The Healthy @ Reader’s Digest spoke with experts from TBD Health: Adrienne Ton, FNP-BC, APRN-CNP, a family nurse practitioner, and Dr. Sophia Murphy, director of wellness.

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Reproduction plays a key role in increased sex drive

First, it’s important to note that the libido is quite complex, and it’s hard to pinpoint an exact age that women experience a higher sex drive. “It can depend on all kinds of things, including mental health and stress as well as physiologic changes in the body like changes in hormones,” says Ton.

However, experts generally say that an increased desire could easily happen as women reach their 30s and 40s—and the reproductive cycle may have a lot to do with it.

“For people with ovaries, libido might increase in the thirties as part of the body’s reproductive cycle,” Ton continues. “In response to declining fertility that occurs with age, especially in the thirties, some hypothesize that the body increases libido as an attempt to boost the chances of conception and pregnancy. It’s also important to note that though libido may increase at this age, this can also vary based on the time of the monthly menstrual cycle.”

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One study published in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality attempted to pinpoint if this is true, exploring if women experience a “sexual peak” in their early thirties. The study review found that women between 30 and 34 described themselves as more lustful, seductive, and sexually active, and the researchers concluded that the peak is meant to increase reproductive efforts in the body.

Another more recent study from the University of Texas at Austin concluded that women between the ages of 27 and 45 experienced heightened sex drive as a response to their decreasing fertility. This includes frequent sexual fantasies, thoughts about sex, and perhaps greater openness to engage in casual sex.

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Experience and education may also be factors for increased libido

While the reproductive cycle and changing hormones may play a significant role in a changing libido, the freedom that age and proper sex education can bring may also help with increasing a woman’s sex drive.

“As we age, we collect experiences, and with experiences comes new information, and new information can bring freedom,” says Dr. Murphy. “With the increase in access to information and more efforts to destigmatize sexual conversations, I think it’s likely that those socialized and raised as women will have their libido increase with age as they simply learn more.”

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With sexual health becoming more of a public conversation, Dr. Murphy believes the stigma surrounding sex will start to fade, helping others to feel relaxed and safe to openly discuss their sexual health and needs. The released tension could even be part of what helps to bring women a deeper sense of pleasure.

“People are allowed to view themselves differently,” says Dr. Murphy. “People are allowed—and give themselves permission—to seek pleasure and explore what they really want. I think we’ll see a continuing increase in libido for people raised and socialized as women in connection with all of these variables.”

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Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a journalist and content strategist with a main focus on nutrition, health, and wellness coverage. She holds an MA in Journalism from DePaul University and a Nutrition Science certificate from Stanford Medicine. Her work has been featured in publications including Taste of Home, Reader's Digest, Bustle, Buzzfeed, INSIDER, MSN, Eat This, Not That!, and more.